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Building a Champion: Damaso Marte

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Part of a Series

Damaso Marte was originally signed by the Seattle Mariners out of the Dominican Republic in 1992. In 2000 he was granted his free agency and signed with the New York Yankees. The Yankees used him to acquire Enrique Wilson in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Just a week before the Sox broke camp on the 2002 season, Kenny Williams made a trade that nobody noticed. He sent the Pirates Matt Guerrier in exchange for Damaso Marte. Guerrier was once a top pitching prospect in the Sox organization, and Marte was now with his 4th club in just over 2 years.

Understandably, as he had pitched just over 40 innings in the majors, I had never seen Marte pitch before. From the first time I did see him, however, I wondered how so many teams had already given up on him. Marte went on to be one of the best relievers in baseball in 2002 and 2003.

The Sox signed Marte to a cheap, but relatively long term, contract following his incredible 2003. They figured that they could groom him to become the club's closer after Keith Foulke's departure. -- It seemed like a good plan, and it still may prove to be in the future, but right now, Marte's mediocrity is a little tougher to swallow at $2.25M next season.